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Fully Funded PhD Studentship with the Rugby Football League and Leeds Beckett University - Carnegie School of Sport - THE DEVELOPMENT AND EVALUATION OF A HOLISTIC RUGBY LEAGUE PERFORMANCE PROFILING AND MONITORING SYSTEM

   The School of Sport

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  Prof K Till, Prof BJ Jones  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Leeds United Kingdom Biomechanics Data Science Sport & Exercise Science Physiology Sport Coaching Sport Development Sport Performance Sport Psychology Sport Technology Sport Therapy

About the Project

The Rugby Football League and the Carnegie School of Sport are looking to recruit a highly motivated individual to a prestigious PhD

  • Full-time Sponsored Postgraduate Research Studentship
  • Start date: February 2022 

The PhD studentship will have a bursary of £15,609 per annum (pro-rata into 12 monthly payments) plus UK/EU Fees paid initially for a period of three years.

This is a unique opportunity for an enthusiastic and high-achieving individual looking to undertake a PhD in a vibrant research and high-performance sport environment. Leeds Beckett University and the Rugby Football League (RFL) are looking to recruit a highly motivated individual to join the research team at Leeds Beckett University. The PhD studentship will involve working alongside a leading multidisciplinary research team and national governing body to deliver a large-scale impactful project. The candidates will have also access to the world-class facilities at the Carnegie School of Sport, including the £45 million new build.

The quality of Carnegie School of Sport research is evident in the outstanding results achieved in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, where we ranked 2nd nationally when accounting for both research quality and the number of contributing staff (Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism). Within the Carnegie School of Sport, the Carnegie Applied Rugby Research (CARR) centre, led by Prof. Ben Jones and Prof Kevin Till, undertakes high quality applied research with international and national governing bodies, and a range of professional sports teams. The CARR centre has a critical mass of over 50 research staff, PhD students and visiting researchers.

The successful candidate should have:

  • A background in sport science and / or strength and conditioning
  • Experience conducting fitness testing and providing athletic development support to youth athletes
  • A background and passion for research methods and data analysis


 (Supervisory Team; Professor Kevin Till, Professor Ben Jones)

Talent identification and development systems are now common place in supporting aspiring athletes to achieve future sporting success (Till & Baker, 2020). One key aspect of such systems is the assessment, profiling and monitoring of player potential and performance through objective and subjective player assessments (McCormack, et al., 2021a). For example, objective fitness tests are implemented to evaluate an athlete’s prerequisites of sporting performance by assessing their physical qualities and inform player assessment and development processes.

Within rugby league, a plethora of research examining the physical qualities of youth rugby league players is available demonstrating the importance of physical qualities for rugby league performance, player development, and future career attainment (e.g., Dobbin et al., 2019; Till et al., 2017). This has resulted in Leeds Beckett University conducting a national standardised physical testing project across rugby league academies within the UK (see McCormack et al., 2021b). However, while physical qualities are important for rugby league, a range of ‘holistic’ (i.e., physical, technical, tactical and psychosocial) qualities are required for young players to succeed in the long-term (Cupples & O'Connor, 2011). Therefore, this research project will aim to develop and evaluate the holistic qualities of youth rugby league players and implement a profiling and monitoring system for use within the sport.

As such this project will involve the successful candidate continuing and building upon the implementation of the RFL national physical qualities testing and data visualisation system. We encourage candidates to be innovative in their applications and demonstrate specific or multiple strengths within research methods (e.g., data science, qualitative) to help achieve the projects aims. The aim is to leave a legacy on the talent identification, development, coaching and other practices within rugby league.

Applicants are encouraged to discuss their proposals and the project with; Professor Kevin Till ([Email Address Removed]) and Professor Ben Jones ([Email Address Removed]).

A guide to making an application and an application form can be found through this link

Funding Notes

Funding will consist of UK / EU full tuition fees for three years and the award of a living stipend at UK Research Council rates (£15,609 per annum pro-rata into 12 monthly payments). Funding will be subject to satisfactory progress.
A laptop will be provided and the opportunity to apply for funding to support the research project.


Cupples, B., & O'Connor, D. (2011). The development of position-specific performance indicators in elite youth rugby league: A coach's perspective. International journal of sports science & coaching, 6(1), 125-141.
Dobbin, N., Highton, J., Moss, S. L., & Twist, C. (2019). Factors affecting the anthropometric and physical characteristics of elite academy rugby league players: a multiclub study. International journal of sports physiology and performance, 14(7), 958-965.
McCormack, S., Jones, B., Elliott, D., Rotheram, D., & Till, K. (2021a). Coaches’ Assessment of Players Physical Performance: Subjective and Objective Measures are needed when Profiling Players. European Journal of Sport Science, 1-11.
McCormack S, Jones B, Scantlebury S, Collins N, Owen C, and Till K. (2021b) Using Principal Component Analysis to Compare the Physical Qualities between Academy and International Youth Rugby League Players, International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 30;1-8.
Till, K., & Baker, J. (2020). Challenges and [possible] solutions to optimizing talent identification and development in sport. Frontiers in psychology, 11, 664.
Till, K., Scantlebury, S., & Jones, B. (2017). Anthropometric and Physical Qualities of Elite Male Youth Rugby League Players. Sports Med, 47(11), 2171-2186. doi:10.1007/s40279-017-0745-8.
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